Young woman teenager embracing to calm her sad best friends from feeling down from breakup with boyfriend outdoors.
Why Some People Lack Empathy
Types of Empathy
According to psychologists Daniel Goleman and Paul Ekman, there are three types of empathy: cognitive empathy, emotional empathy, and compassionate empathy. Levels of empathy can vary, and not everyone develops all types of empathy.
Cognitive Empathy
Cognitive empathy refers to an individual's ability to recognize others' emotions and understand why they behave the way they do. For example, if a person has gone through a divorce, you are cognizant of how they feel and why they've been upset.
Emotional Empathy
With emotional empathy, you may put yourself in the shoes of another person and adopt their sentiments as your own, even to the point of experiencing bodily sensations. For example, you may be saddened or experience heartache when you see a loved one going through a traumatic experience.
Compassionate Empathy
Compassionate empathy is the next degree of empathy, distinguished by a deep comprehension of and sentiments for another's plight in addition to a strong desire to help them. For example, you might donate a small amount of money to a beggar or walk an elderly person across a busy traffic junction.
When it comes to pinpointing the cause of a lack of empathy, many factors are at play. Low empathy is often associated with personality and developmental disorders such as narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), sociopathy, Machiavellianism, autism, alexithymia, and borderline personality disorder (BPD).